Effect of local anaesthetics on steroid-nicotinic acetylcholine receptor interactions in native membranes of Torpedo marmorata electric organ

H. R. Arias, M. B. Sankaram, D. Marsh, F. J. Barrantes

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Interactions between steroids and the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (AChR) have been studied in native membrane vesicles from Torpedo marmorata electric organ by electron spin resonance (ESR) and fluorescence techniques. ESR spectra of spin-labelled cholestane (CSL) revealed that this steroid probe was incorporated into the AChR-rich membrane vesicles in regions which were to a certain extent enriched preferentially in the steroid, both in the presence and in the absence of local anaesthetics. Since the nitroxide group present in CSL is also a paramagnetic quencher of the intrinsic protein fluorescence, this property was used to characterize the AChR-steroid interactions. The quenching induced by CSL was sensitive both to AChR concentration and to the action of cholinergic agonists. In competition experiments, the ability of CSL to quench the AChR intrinsic fluorescence was markedly inhibited by benzocaine, tetracaine and QX-222 (a quaternary trimethylammonium derivative of lidocaine), and was totally inhibited by procaine. The effectiveness of local anaesthetics in inhibiting CSL-induced quenching followed the order: procaine ≫ benzocaine {greater-than or approximate} tetracaine > QX-222. This inhibition effect was shown not to be charge-dependent. The data can be interpreted in terms of a model requiring specific association sites for local anaesthetics on the hydrophobic surface of the AChR which at least partially overlap with those for steroids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-294
Number of pages8
JournalBBA - Biomembranes
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 1990
Externally publishedYes



  • (Torpedo marmorata)
  • Cholesterol
  • ESR
  • Fluorescence quenching
  • Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
  • Spin label

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